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The Brain Is Like A Muscle

The other day I was flying to a conference in California and noticed the passenger sitting in front of me on the opposite side of aisle staring at a box with 36 squares. Inside some of these squares were what appeared random numbers. After a several minutes of thinking he would write in a number in a couple of the empty boxes. Minutes later he would go back and cross out the number he had written and write down another number. What he was doing was finding an existing pattern in the numbers already written that would allow him fill in the appropriate number in the other blank squares.

This type of “brain game” is suppose to increase your cognitive powers. Those selling these type of games state ‘your brain is like a muscle: the more you use it, the stronger it will get.’

Over the last 15 years neuroscientists have gathered abundant evidence that important cognitive functions such as memory, attention and processing speed can be improved by training. For example London taxi drivers, develop a larger hippocampus- the part of the brain responsible for spatial memory- as they learn their way around the city.

So next time you are waiting for your doctor or on a long flight challenge your brain with one of the many brain games that are out there. At the very least it is a fun way to while away the time and hopefully benefit from it.

Terry Pfau DO, HMD

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